The pilgrimage to Nepal started off with visiting sacred sites and holy chapels, but never in our wildest dream did any of us thought we will have an audience with His Holiness the current Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche – a living Buddha Heruka!
It all happened one night when we all went out for dinner with Tsem Rinpoche. Rinpoche briefly mentioned to us while we were ordering our food, that he was trying his “luck” to locate Pabongka Rinpoche. At that time, Rinpoche himself was not certain if Pabongka Rinpoche was in Nepal. All of a sudden the phone in the restaurant rang; Rinpoche picked it up and started speaking in Tibetan. When Rinpoche got off the phone, he told us that He just spoke with His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche, I think I almost fainted. Basically everyone there was in shock mode.
How one earth did Pabongka Rinpoche knew we were going to have dinner in this particular restaurant, know its number to call, and to call it at the right time for Tsem Rinpoche to pick up the phone?! Oh my Buddha what just happened? Did we just experience some divine magical clairvoyance here? All these thoughts were rushing through my head. It was just so strange how everything just fell into its perfect place. I could not believe my ears when Rinpoche told us we will be having an audience with His Holiness. Wow! This was not in our itinerary and no one had planned it, but definitely one of the most amazing enlightening dream come true.
Tsem Rinpoche told us that this was extremely auspicious because it was unplanned, a really good omen of good things to come, as well as a good sign that we have the merits to connect with Pabongka Rinpoche. It must be because our samaya (relationship) with Tsem Rinpoche is intact.
All this time I’ve only heard of the previous great Pabongka Rinpoche’s holy name through Tsem Rinpoche’s teachings, and known Him to be one of the world’s greatest enlightened teachers who gave us ‘Liberation in the Palm of your Hand’. Now I’m about to have an audience with the current incarnation, a real living Buddha of our time!
The day came for the audience with His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche, and you could feel everyone’s excitement to meet this great lineage master of ours. The previous Pabongka Rinpoche was the spiritual teacher to some of the world’s most elite, erudite masters of the Gelug school of Buddhism. About 90% of the Gelugpa teachers were either His student or that their Gurus were His student. Pabongka Rinpoche was known to be the ‘Guru of All Men’. One way or another everyone was somehow connected to Pabongka Rinpoche. The lineage and practice of the 14th Dalai Lama comes from His Gurus; the previous Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, which in turn came from Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. Pabongka Rinpoche is literally every Gelugpa practitioner’s lineage master. Practitioners of Maha-annutaratantra invoke upon His blessings in their daily practices. This is a way for us to show gratitude to the source that gave us those very practices which guides to Buddhahood. Without blessings from our Guru and lineage masters our practices are just empty recitations. So you can imagine how significant this audience was for all of us. It’s like meeting our great, great, great, spiritual grandfather!
We were ushered into a small humble audience room after a cup of tea. As we entered, everyone made three prostrations and even though we were squeezed in, it did not matter as we were in awe to be in the presence of Buddha Heruka.
There is a famous story of how Heruka actually appeared to the previous Pabongka Rinpoche when he visited Cimburi in Tibet, where there is an image of Heruka. When he first went there, this image spoke to him, opened its mouth and a tremendous amount of nectar came out. Pabongka Rinpoche collected the nectar from the mouth of Heruka while in the presence of sixty or seventy people. It is also stated that at that same place is where Heruka had promised Pabongka Rinpoche the following; “From now on, for the next seven generations, whoever practices my teaching, I will protect and help.” This is why Pabongka Rinpoche is also considered to be a living Heruka.
So here we are in front of a living Buddha, our lineage’s great spiritual father, but what you see before you is a medium size built, very humble, unpretentious, simple monk who is soft spoken. I would have never thought He is who He is if He had passed me on the streets. This to me is what made Him an enlightened being.
This experience clearly shows the importance of keeping our samaya (relationship) with our Guru ‘clean’ or intact. If our samaya is clean, then blessings from the lineage Masters and Buddhas can flow through our Guru to bless us and connect us easily. Hence, allowing us to experience such precious encounters.
They say to even see the golden face of Pabongka Rinpoche just once brings tremendous blessings. But we cannot deny that the greatness of such blessing comes from one’s Guru first. If it wasn’t for our Guru, Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, this connection would not have been possible.
I am forever grateful for not just all that Rinpoche has done and keep doing to benefit everyone, but for the fact that Rinpoche exist. Because of Rinpoche’s compassion to benefit others, that is why we all have a chance to connect with the divine – the Buddhas. All realisations, attainments and blessings stem from Guru, thus we take refuge in the Guru – Namo Guru Beh.
- H.H. KYABJE PABONGKA RINPOCHE (1878–1941)
- Did you know this about Pabongka Rinpoche?
- Why Visit Holy Pilgrimages?
- Kathmandu, Nepal 2008
- Nepal Pilgrimage with H.E. Tsem Rinpoche (Part 3 of 4)
- Tsem Rinpoche’s Birthday/Long Life Puja 2004
- Flying Vajrayogini in Patan, Nepal